Jan 25, 2012 Sports
Another day, another venue but the same sordid tale for India yet again as Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting piled on the agony for the hapless tourists on the first day at the Adelaide Oval. At stumps, Australia were 335 for 3, with captain Michael Clarke unbeaten on 140 and Ricky Ponting 137 not out.
The day had started on a bright note for India after Clarke won the toss and elected to bat, but as has been the story of the nightmarish tour Down Under, the Australia skipper and Ponting dominated the clueless Indian bowling attack and they were also helped by misfields and dropped catches. Ponting and Clarke came together with the score at 84 for 3 towards the end of the first session, but then batted through the rest of the day to put Australia in the pole position.
Good start for India
Pace spearhead Zaheer Khan gave India the ideal start when he trapped the swashbuckling southpaw David Warner plumb in front in the seventh over of the match. Warner, who had smashed a 69-ball 100 enroute to his brilliant 180 in the third Test, struggled against Ashwin during his 23-ball 8 before Zaheer nipped in a good length delivery from outside the off stump and umpire Aleem Dar ruled in the bowler’s favour after some thought.
Virender Sehwag, India’s stand-in captain for this Test in place of the banned MS Dhoni, then made an inspired bowling change as he introduced R Ashwin into the attack as early as the fourth over after Umesh Yadav bowled a shocker in his first over as he leaked 12 runs. Ashwin started off with a couple of maiden overs to Warner before he got the woefully out-of-form Shaun Marsh to play down the wrong line only to have his stumps pegged back. Marsh has scored only 17 runs in the series so far, and at least his short-term Test career is now in serious danger of coming to an abrupt halt.
Meanwhile, Australia’s other opening batsman, Ed Cowan got the hosts’ innings back on track as he added 53 runs for the third wicket with Ponting. Cowan was looking comfortable in the middle before he was undone by a flighted delivery from Ashwin and his attempted cover drive was well caught by VVS Laxman at short cover just before lunch. This was to be the last success India would have for the rest of the day as the bowlers’ failed to drive home the advantage in the second and third sessions.
The Ponting and Clarke show
Ponting got into his groove pretty early in his innings thanks to some sloppy bowling from Umesh Yadav, who had a nightmare of a day and conceded 87 runs in his 12 overs. The former Australia captain hardly looked like a batsman who was batting to save his career at the start of the series as he was hardly troubled and was also at his fluent best as he also showed a fair bit of aggressive intent. Clarke also got his eye in quickly as he and Ponting brought up their 50-run partnership at a fast clip. As well as the pair
batted, they were helped by some inept bowling from India’s pace bowlers, especially Yadav, as well as some strange field placements and shoddy fielding.
Dravid put down a chance off Clarke when he was on 50 off Ishant Sharma’s bowling and then Laxman failed to hold on to a tough catch in the slips towards the end of the day’s play. The fortunate batsman was Clarke again while the unlucky bowler was Ishant.
Apart from those two chances, opportunites were hard to come by for India to break the Ponting-Clarke partnership as the pair put an encore performance of their 288-run partnership in Sydney as they blunted the Indian attack while mixing caution with aggression. Ponting and Clarke also ran hard and brilliantly between the wickets on a sweltering day in Adelaide as they piled on the runs and made India chase leather all over the park.
During his unbeaten century, his 41st in Tests, Ponting became only the third batsman after India’s Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid to cross the 13,000-run landmark. He also beat former West Indies captain Clive Lloyd’s record for scoring the most Test runs against India, and looks set to make merry again at the Adelaide Oval, which has been a happy hunting ground for him. Ponting reached his century with a boundary through point and gully off Zaheer in the 164th ball he faced. Clarke, who was the more aggressive of the pair, scored his century off 134 balls.
India’s bowlers and fielders lacked intensity and the will to fight in the second and third sessions, and were paid to pay dearly for it by Ponting and Clarke, who made merry yet again. A 4-0 whitewash seems to be on the cards, and it can only be averted if India put in a much better show for the remainder of the match.
Scores: Australia 3 for 335 (Clarke 140*, Ponting 137*) v India.
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